September 11, 2011

"Now the towers are gone."

Of course, you all know that something unspeakably terrible happened on this day at this minute ten years ago.

9/11.
the world trade center.
a day of madness.


But in 1974, in that same place, something beautiful happened.

French tightrope walker Philippe Petit strung a cable between the two half-constructed towers and made a glorious walk between them. For forty-five minutes, he ran, danced, jumped, laid down, and gave knee salutes on a wire one thousand, three hundred, fifty feet above the ground.

I read a book on it - a children's book called The Man Who Walked Between the Towers.



It is my favorite children's book.

It tells a beautiful story. The pictures, and the very concept of being so entirely in the air, so isolated with the light rain and the wind and the sky and the city so infinitely far below... it's beautiful. It electrifies my mind in Owl-City-ish ways. It's just glorious.

To my dismay, as I researched this possible-new-hero, Philippe, I found that he was, of course, not perfect. He had (has; for he lives still) issues with immorality and narcissism (and obeying authority >_>). Nonetheless, his walk between the two unformed towers was courageous, and it is to me very beautiful.

Philippe was arrested for his stunt. Secluded from the astonished press, while cuffed to a chair in a police station, Philippe kept himself occupied by picking his handcuffs with a paper clip and balancing an officer's hat on his nose. Such classic mischief. :) He was later given the grave sentence of performing for children in a park.

Although the actual walk between the towers was not captured clearly on video, several pictures were taken. Good ones are in the news report below, as well as footage of his post-arrest stunt with the hat.


See the report to the confused and smiling world.


Philippe was not perfect, and his stunt was not exactly wise. But his walk between the fated towers made beautiful a place that, decades later, would be a scene of terror and chaos.

Go check out the book from your library - The Man Who Walked Between the Towers - and spend a few moments reflecting on the quiet awe of standing on an inch of steel, in the air atop the world, entirely alone and untouchable.

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"Now the towers are gone."



"But in memory, as if imprinted on the sky, the towers are still there. And part of that memory is the joyful morning, August 7, 1974, when Philippe Petit walked between them in the air."

9 comments:

Faye said...

Great post, it's so easy to only think of the bad thing associated with those towers, but it's good to think of the positive too :)

Ninja Tim said...

Yes, I agree. And you're right whisper, it may not have been a particularly prudent thing to do, but it definitely took a measure of guts and skill that can't be ignored!

His showmanship is certainly top-notch. I like the punishment they gave him. =)

whisper said...

so many things in this world can be used for beauty or for evil...

Sir Ninja - so it did, so it did! And it was a rather clever punishment. ^_^ Nowadays it would almost certainly never happen; he'd probably be clapped in jail for a few years. >_>

Griffin said...

Whisper: today I decided to do something really out of the ordinary, so I dressed as your character from the Epic Battle thread and The Pirate Adventures. People loved it.
It was hard to act like striding in a long black cloak, dark clothes, and tall boots was normal...

whisper said...

:O What?? You mean you actually in-real-life-person dressed as the infamous Captain Whisper? That is... astonishing! I am baffled and pleased! :D I confess that in real life I don't even *have* a black cloak or tall boots, though I'm doing what I can to remedy that. :| This is so great! :D This made my week. I wish I could see pictures. ^_^

Griffin said...

Indeed! (Thank you Grandmother for tackling that evil sewing machine monster)
It was a lot of fun.
I'm really glad you got a laugh out of that. I should do it more often.
If there were pictures, I'd see what I could do to get them to you.
-PF

whisper said...

Huzzah!! :D That is just so great. ^_^ If you do indeed get ahold of pictures (and if you don't mind sharing what you look like) please message me through blogger (I think that can be done, right? o_O) and we can hopefully figure out how to swap pics. :)

-whisper

Griffin said...

I'll see what I can do. I don't have Blogger. Yet. But that might soon change. But it might be a little while. If I do, they'll probably be pictures of just the clothing or withour my face. I don't know. I'll have to think about it...
-PF

whisper said...

*nods* Understandable, understandable quite. Whatever you're comfortable with/able to do. :)

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